Tuesday: Barkus Pretrial, Wolf Hunt, Young Cattle

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; on the Beacon today, with President Barack Obama’s plan to triple the size of AmeriCorps, Montana could be gearing up for a considerable increase in its already sizeable volunteer base. We’re high on Mayor-elect Tammi Fisher and low on the state’s dropping tax revenue in our weekly index of what’s up, down and in between. Attorneys are set to meet at a pretrial hearing Dec. 14 in the case against state Sen. Greg Barkus, who faces several charges stemming from a Flathead Lake boat crash that injured all five people aboard, including U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg. State wildlife officials say they are shutting down wolf hunting along the North Fork of the Flathead River after the shooting of two wolves filled the area’s season-long quota. And the Woodland Ice Center is open for skating at Kalispell’s Woodland Park.

One of the 13 people killed by a gunman at Fort Hood in Texas was a physician’s assistant who served in the Montana Army National Guard for many years, his family said. A coalition of environmental and American Indian groups sued two federal agencies Monday to stop the mass slaughter of bison that migrate outside Yellowstone National Park in search of food. Bill Clinton will speak to Senate Democrats about health care legislation during their weekly caucus Tuesday. Rep. Denny Rehberg, who joined all but one of his fellow Republicans in voting “no” Saturday on the major health reform bill that passed the U.S. House, said the measure is an ill-advised “trillion-dollar government takeover of health care.” Michael Jamison writes about the massive smoke in Libby due to the burning of Plum Creek slash piles just outside of town. And beef prices could be on the rise: Auction prices for young, lightweight cattle have increased $1 to $2 per hundredweight for each of the last two weeks as buyers look for animals that won’t be fat enough for market until the economy improves.

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